These findings are the result of further analysis of the 2,500-person iPrEx study, which found that Truvada was a safe and effective prophylaxis. During the trial, depression was reported as one of the most common side effects, and there was concern whether the medication might increase the risks of depressive symptoms and suicide in a vulnerable population.
The new analysis found that the overall number of people reporting depression-related adverse events did not differ between Truvada and placebo (127 vs. 105), nor did the total number of depression events (152 vs. 144). The rate of suicide ideation or attempt also did not differ statistically between Truvada and placebo.
While these findings are encouraging, the study authors did stress that the overall rates of depression or depression-related events were high in both groups. This could be a public health issue, as depression can lead to more risky sexual behaviors while lowering adherence to prophylactic medications.
“PrEP programs may provide infrastructure for increasing access to mental health services, enabling synergistic diagnoses, and management of co-morbidities,” the authors noted.
To read more about the risks of HIV among people with mental health disorders, see the Psychiatric News article “HIV in Mental Health Facilities Sometimes Gets too Little Attention.”